Uploaded: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 7 p.m.
Statement of Supervisor Joe Simitian
Introduction,Purpose of Town Hall Meeting
Let me begin by explaining the purpose of this evening's Town Hall meeting. There are two purposes really. The first is to share with you my preliminary thinking about Stanford University's application for a Community Plan and General Use Permit. The second, quite simply, is to hear from you.
As most of you probably know, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider and take action on Stanford's application on Tuesday of next week. My goal in sharing my preliminary thinking with you this evening is to provide an opportunity for public comment in advance of the Board's deliberation. As a matter of fairness (and law), the conclusions I share with you this evening must be preliminary in nature. Until the gavel comes down at the end of our last public hearing on this subject, I must and I will keep an open mind.
That being said, however, I've rather obviously begun to develop some opinions about which directions we should take on the pending application, and it seemed to me it would be most helpful if I shared them with you all this evening, while there is still an opportunity for comment -- rather than waiting until the public hearing process had been concluded and further public comment was precluded.
Which brings me to the second purpose of this evening's town hall meeting, which is to hear from you. After I've expressed my preliminary thinking, I encourage you to share your thoughts about the direction I'm inclined to take and/or any other matters relating to Stanford's Community Plan and GUP application.
If you think that my reasoning is faulty, my facts are wrong, or that I've simply missed the boat, please feel free to let me know. By the same token, if you're inclined to think I'm more or less on the right track it would be helpful to know that as well. Given the scope and complexity of the issues we'll be talking about this evening, some subjects may be touched on only lightly, or possibly not all. If you have comments, concerns or opinions you wish to share on issues that have not been addressed by my remarks, please feel free to do so.
My hope is that by offering my thoughts this evening, then hearing from you tonight, then considering the calls, cards, letters, faxes and e-mails I feel sure we'll be receiving between now and October 30th, and then carefully listening to the public testimony at our Board's October 30th public hearing, I'll be able to refine my thinking even more, and then make the best possible recommendation to my colleagues at our meeting on Tuesday, October 31st.
For those of you concerned about the timeline as we move into the final days of decision-making, it may be helpful for you to know that while our Board is scheduled to take action on October 31st, there will still be plenty of time following that date for the Board to dot the i's and cross the t's, which is an inevitable part of a process such as this. There are regularly scheduled meetings of the Board Supervisors calendared for November 7th and November 14th, as well as other dates set aside on an "as needed" basis. We do, however, expect that October 30th will be the last opportunity for public comment before the public hearing is closed.
Having briefly described the process we'll be using during the final weeks of decision-making, it is perhaps appropriate to take a few minutes to review the process that brought us to this point. At the outset, more than a year-and-a-half ago, it was my goal to devise a process that was iterative and incremental -- a process which would refine and improve the Community Plan and GUP at every step along the way.
To that end we created a five-step process. In effect, we gave ourselves five chances to get it right.
The first step in the process was a Draft Application prepared by Stanford for consideration and comment by the community, County Planning staff and my office. That was the first chance to get it right.
The second step in the process was a formal application, filed by Stanford University in November of 1999, based on feedback received in connection with the Draft. That was the second chance to get it right.
The third step in the process was extensive environmental review, followed by comments and recommendations (issued in June, August and October of this year) from County Planning staff -- offering their best professional judgments and recommendations. That was the third chance to get it right.
The fourth step in the process was completed just last week. On October 18th and 19th, the County Planning Commission heard public testimony and made its own recommendations, which were, for the most part, substantially similar to those of the County Planning Department. That was the fourth chance to get it right.
The fifth and final step in the process, of course, is consideration and action by our Board -- our last chance to get it right.
My hope and expectation was that by putting the application through five successive screens, we would refine and improve the project with each successive step in the process. I believe that goal has in fact been realized.
It was also my hope that if outstanding issues were well and truly confronted along the way, we could avoid any 12th hour surprises -- that is, we would reduce the need or potential for our Board of Supervisors to simply dismiss the hard work of the past 18 months and then come up with something from scratch. Here again, I believe the process has largely been successful.
I think the success of the process to date has been due in no small measure to two important commitments made early on in this exercise:
Meaningful opportunities for public participation; and
A genuinely cross-jurisdictional approach which ensured that the legitimate interests of our neighbors in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley and unincorporated San Mateo County were adequately represented and considered in the process.
Here again my hopes and expectations for the process have largely been realized.
In recent weeks many of you have asked how I go about deciding what I think in matters of this sort. So let me share with you the criteria I consider in making land use decisions like the one we have before us.
As I review the recommendations from Planning Staff and the Planning Commission, I ask six questions about the recommended course of action:
Does it allow the applicant to make good and productive use of the property?
Does it ensure that the applicant will mitigate any adverse impacts arising from the proposed use?
Is the proposal environmentally appropriate, and consistent with sound land use planning practices?
Does the private use respect the public interest?
Is it fair?
And is it legal?
These are the criteria I've applied in reaching some tentative conclusions about the Stanford GUP and Community Plan. All that having been said, let me now offer some specific comments on the substance of the application.
The Bottom Line
Stanford's Community Plan and GUP application ask that the County authorize the development of 2,035,000 square feet of academic facilities and up to 3,018 housing units (estimated to make up another 2.8 million square feet of development). My inclination is to say yes -- yes to all of it -- but only if it is well-designed, carefully planned, appropriately located, and effectively mitigated.
By any reasonable standard, 4.8 million square feet is a lot of development. Simply put, Stanford wants to "grow" its core campus by more than a third in the next 10 years, and seeks approval from our County to do so. I am inclined to support that request, and urge my colleagues to support it as well; subject, however, to the Conditions of Approval and Community Plan language provided by County Planning staff and the Santa Clara County Planning Commission, as well as some additional provisions I will share with you this evening.
Rate and Amount of Growth
Notwithstanding my inclination to recommend approval, I do have concerns about both the amount and the rate of growth proposed -- and some thoughts about how to deal with those issues.
It seems to me we are sometimes reluctant to face the fact that there are indeed limits on the absolute level of growth which can be successfully accommodated, as well as the rate of growth which can be thoughtfully managed. In my view, this is an issue which simply must be confronted. The starting point in successfully planning for and managing some additional increment of growth on the Stanford campus is an understanding of both the amount of growth and the rate of growth at issue.
From Stanford's earliest beginnings in 1875 up until 1960, the University's total development was roughly 4 million square feet -- 4 million square feet over a period of 85 years. During the next 25 years (from 1960-1985), the level of development on Stanford's core campus literally doubled, from 4,000,000 square feet to more than 8 million square feet. And in the 25 years from 1985 to 2010, assuming we approve the development proposed in the Community Plan and GUP application, the University will for the second time have doubled in size in 25 years, from eight million-and-change to almost 16 million square feet of development upon the expiration of this Year 2000 GUP.
Rather obviously, this level of exponential growth, that is to say a doubling in size every 25 years, cannot continue in perpetuity -- or even, I think most of us would agree, for the next 25 or 50 years.
I for one could certainly not support a doubling of development from almost 16 million square feet to 32 million square feet in the 25 years following this GUP, or a doubling in development from 32 million square feet to 64 million square feet in the 25 years after that. Nor is there any reason to think the University has such aggressive growth plans in mind.
The problem, of course, is that it's difficult to know or plan for whatever the University has in mind, because the University has never been obliged to determine and describe its vision of ultimate buildout. Nor, for that matter, has the County of Santa Clara ever been inclined to face up to the challenge of determining and planning for a particular vision of buildout on the Stanford campus. To put it another way: The reason we've never been able to plan for Stanford's future is that we have no clear notion of what that future might be.
During the past 18 months some members of the public have proposed that we use this GUP and Community Plan process to establish a "cap" on the University's maximum development potential, "buildout" as it's often referred to. While I believe there would be value in a clearer vision of the University's long term development plans, and greater clarity about the ultimate potential or carrying capacity of University lands, I don't think we were well-positioned to reach such conclusions as we entered this process.
By its nature the Community Plan and GUP application process is a request for an additional increment of development rather than a long-term attempt to plan for the whole. For that reason, I am not inclined to propose that our Board establish a permanent cap or attempt to define at this point the ultimate buildout of the campus.
I am inclined to think, however, that it would be irresponsible to simply ignore the need for a clearer notion about the ultimate capacity of Stanford lands and a clearer vision of what such a plan might entail. For that reason I'm inclined to suggest to my colleagues that the Conditions of Approval for the GUP include a condition requiring that Stanford undertake a Buildout Study regarding the buildout potential of Stanford University on all unincorporated lands within Santa Clara County.
I would propose that within a year of the GUP approval the County Planning Office develop criteria for the content of such a Study. The University would be expected to begin such a Study prior to completion of 800,000 square feet of facilities on the Stanford campus, and complete the Buildout Study before exceeding 1.2 million square feet of academic development on the Stanford campus. Stanford's Buildout Study would have to be deemed adequate and complete by the Santa Clara County Planning Office as a precondition for development of more than 1.6 million square feet.
I believe that the preparation of such a Buildout Study by Stanford University will help to ensure that before the University approaches Santa Clara County for its next set of approvals, a decade or so hence, we will have a clearer picture of the amount, rate and nature of growth Stanford plans for its campus, and will thereby be better equipped to plan for such growth.
Let me turn now to the question of housing. Earlier this year I suggested that there might appropriately be some basis for "linkage" between the development of academic facilities and housing on the campus. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, this discussion has become both confusing and contentious. So let me suggest a somewhat different approach than that contained in the recommendations from our Planning staff and the Planning Commission, an approach which I think may help.
It seems to me there are two important but separate threshold questions we have to ask and answer. The first is: how much housing should Stanford be allowed to build? The second is: how much housing should Stanford be required to build?
As to the first question, I have already indicated that I believe Stanford University should be allowed to build all of the housing for which it has requested approvals. Let me say it again -- all of it. Moreover, I fully support provisions contained in the Planning staff and Planning Commission recommendations that would permit the development of housing above and beyond that number without the necessity of a new GUP. That, I think, answers the first question.
The second and very different question is, as I noted, to what extent should Stanford be required to build housing as a precondition to the development of academic facilities. Notwithstanding the debate on this topic in recent months, I believe the answer is really quite simple. The University should be required to build such housing as is demonstrably necessary to mitigate the adverse impacts of its academic development on this region's housing supply. No more, no less.
I do not believe it would be appropriate, for example, to expect Stanford University to single-handedly solve the housing shortage on the Peninsula. Nor do I think we can require the University to make up for a pre-existing housing deficit on campus, if indeed such a deficit exists, resulting from past approvals. What we can and should do, however, is determine the growth in population we anticipate as a result of Stanford's development, and then require that a sufficient stock of housing be provided by the University to accommodate that growth.
The analysis conducted for this project's EIR (Environmental Impact Report), relying heavily on population information provided by Stanford University, indicates that the development of 2,035,000 square feet of academic facilities will result in a population increase of 2,201 students, faculty and staff; and as a result of growth inducing impacts an additional population increase of as much as 1,050 is projected -- a total potential increase in population of 3,251. A population increase of that magnitude is expected to generate demand for something like 2,420 additional units of housing. It is that number of units which I believe can and should appropriately be required, simply as a mitigation for the development proposed by the University.
Having said that, I am aware of and sympathetic to the University's concerns that, if not carefully crafted, such mitigation measures could unintentionally impede the University's ability to move forward with academic development. For that reason I am inclined to suggest that such requirements be imposed as follows: Before the University could build more than 500,000 square feet of academic facilities, it must have satisfied at least 25% of the required housing mitigation. Before the University could build more than 1 million square feet of academic facilities, it must have satisfied at least 50% of the required housing mitigation; and before the University could build more than 1.5 million square feet of academic facilities, it must have satisfied at least 75% of the housing mitigation required. Above the level of 1.5 million square feet of academic development, additional academic development would be preconditioned on a commensurate level of housing mitigation.
I believe that by applying this "loose linkage" we can ensure that the housing mitigation required will in fact be delivered in full, but on a timetable which is flexible enough to ensure that it poses no impediment to the University's schedule for academic development.
To provide additional flexibility, I am inclined to suggest that this loose linkage also allow for the suspension, but not elimination, of housing mitigation requirements if and when, as unlikely as it seems today, the vacancy rate on the Peninsula rises to a level which makes campus housing either unnecessary or unmarketable. Moreover, should the County ever deny a University request or requests for housing totalling in excess of 200 units, I would suggest that the University might petition the Board of Supervisors to waive the housing requirements of this condition, which waiver would be available upon a two-thirds vote of the Board.
I believe this approach, this loose linkage, is entirely consistent with the notion of "flexibility with accountability" which has been the basis for much of our discussion. These requirements are simply designed to ensure that Stanford's academic development does not make our housing problem on the Peninsula even worse than it is today.
Frankly, at a time when the average home price on the Midpeninsula exceeds $800,000 and the rental housing vacancy rate is a fraction of 1%, I find it hard to believe that anyone would take issue with the notion that significant development ought to proceed only if it addresses the housing demand it creates.
In sum, I'm suggesting that Stanford University be allowed to develop all of the housing it has requested, and be required to provide all of the housing necessary to mitigate the housing impacts of its academic development.
There remains, however, an important question not addressed by the staff recommendation or the Planning Commission -- the critical issue of affordability. Frankly, I am not inclined to think it appropriate for our County to address the issue of affordability with respect to the housing provided for undergraduates, graduate students, residents at Stanford Hospital and postdoc's. They are, in a sense, sui generis -- a unique case. In a very real sense the graduate students are the University's customers, employees, and products all rolled into one. Stanford will presumably have to price its units at a level which allows the University to continue to attract the best and brightest, and I am not inclined to think it appropriate for our County to prescribe the cost of student housing.
I am, however, concerned that the recommendations we have received thus far have not addressed the issue of affordability for the increase of 935 faculty and staff and the 865 additional individuals who will arrive on the Peninsula as a result of the proposed academic developments growth and its impacts.
I understand and am sympathetic to the University's desire to create a "community of scholars" on the Stanford campus, but I also understand and am sympathetic to the needs of lower-income employees who will inevitably be necessary as a result of this level of development. Someone will have to push a broom to keep the place clean. Someone will have to maintain the grounds. And someone will have to scrub the pots and the pans. The question, of course, is where will these new employees find an affordable place to live?
The needs of these folks can only be addressed by including some sort of affordability component in the Conditions of Approval, and I believe that for the 1154 units that would be required to accommodate the housing needs of these 1800 faculty, staff and others, some 15% of those units should be set aside for individuals of very-low, low and moderate income status. If we fail to do so, we will not have truly mitigated the impacts of the proposed development. It is not only a matter of the number of units, but also affordability.
Here again, I am mindful of the University's desire for some measure of flexibility, and I'm inclined to suggest that the Conditions of Approval contain a requirement for 173 affordable units (representing the 15% set-aside that I have described), with one-third of that number allocated to persons of very low-income, one-third of that number allocated to persons of low-income and one-third of that number allocated to persons of moderate income. Or, alternatively, at the University's request, that fees might be paid, in lieu of providing such housing, to an escrow account which could fund affordable housing projects within a six mile commute radius of Stanford University.
I understand that this may seem a Herculean effort, but let me reiterate my principal point. If we do all this and we do it successfully, we will not have made our housing situation any better, we will only have succeeded in keeping the situation from getting any worse as a result of academic development on the Stanford campus.
For that reason I am particularly pleased that the University has expressed its desire and intention to do even more in the way of housing. I support them in that effort, and I want to make sure that we accommodate that desire to the extent that we possibly can.
Open Space and Land Use
Let me turn my attention now to the very contentious issues of open space and land use. Before sharing my thoughts about what remains to be done in this area, I think it would be helpful and appropriate to review what has already been accomplished during the course of this process.
One of the advantages of an incremental process is that you make incremental progress; one of the disadvantages of an incremental process is that it is sometimes easy to forget just how much progress has been made along the way. I think it is worthwhile therefore to take a moment and review the progress to date. As they now stand, the recommendations we have before us from our County Planning staff and Planning Commission already incorporate:
A first-ever Stanford Community Plan -- a comprehensive 135-page amendment to the County's General Plan which, if adopted, would govern Stanford land use with an unprecedented level of clarity and specificity.
A first-ever Academic Growth Boundary -- designed to clearly define and delineate the limits of academic growth.
A 25-year protection of acreage in the foothills, articulated in the Stanford Community Plan, and implemented by the use of the Academic Growth Boundary; and finally,
A redesignation of Stanford lands in the foothills -- changing "Open Space-Academic Reserve" to either "Open Space-Field Research" or "Special Conservation Area"; a move which, if adopted, would clearly indicate that the lands in the foothills are not, in fact, reserved for intensive academic development.
I want to emphasize this last provision in particular because its importance, in my observation, has been vastly underestimated during the course of public discussion and debate.
This redesignation, from "Open Space-Academic Reserve" to "Open Space-Field Research" or "Special Conservation Area" provides significant new protection for roughly 2,200 acres in the foothills southwest of Junipero Serra Boulevard. This designation is a result of Community Plan amendments to our County's General Plan, which is the preeminent planning document governing land use for our County. While it is true that a General Plan designation is not permanent (in the sense that it does not last in perpetuity), it is also true that a General Plan designation (like Open Space-Field Research) is unlimited in its duration -- it remains in place until and unless an affirmative action is taken by our Board of Supervisors to change the designation.
My point here is that measures already proposed by the County Planning staff and the County Planning Commission provide four levels of protection for the foothills above Junipero Serra Boulevard : a first-ever Community Plan, a first-ever Academic Growth Boundary, a 25 year term for the AGB and an Open Space-Field Research or Special Conservation Area designation for roughly 2,200 acres of land in the foothills. Frankly, if that's all we were to have done in terms of sound land use planning, it would be one hell of an accomplishment. But I think we can and should do more.
Before I say a little bit about other sound land-use planning strategies that may be appropriate, I'd like to say a little bit about what I think is not appropriate.
During the course of these past 18 months I have often heard or read the suggestion that if Stanford University wants all this development they should be obliged to give us the open space in the foothills in exchange for that development. Let me just say, that's not the way it works. At least, that's not the way it's supposed to work.
This isn't Let's Make a Deal. It isn't a swap meet. And it isn't a flea market. Nor is this an opportunity to simply say "stick 'em up!" We can't do it, and I wouldn't even suggest it.
What I can and would suggest, however, is that we have not only the right, but the obligation to exercise the land use authority of the County, thoughtfully and judiciously, by applying appropriate land use designations to the property in question, in both our General Plan and our Zoning Ordinance. We also have the right and the obligation to ensure that any and all adverse impacts in a land use application are fully mitigated by the Conditions of Approval. And we have the right and the obligation to require that a project be well-planned, properly sited, and carefully laid out to minimize adverse impacts and maximize quality of life for campus residents and the surrounding communities.
In considering the potential development capacity of Stanford University's 4,017 acres in the unincorporated County, one quickly comes to the conclusion that the development capacity of the total acreage depends significantly on the care and acumen brought to bear in the location and orientation of the development in question.
If we plan well and wisely we can not only do more, we can do it better and often times with fewer adverse impacts. To that end the Planning staff and the Planning Commission have appropriately recommended a pattern of Compact Urban Development (CUD) -- in effect, a clustering of development in those portions of the campus deemed most appropriate. In this fashion we hope to pursue a policy of "smart growth," with all its beneficial implications for land use, transportation, resource conservation, public safety and service delivery -- and avoid the adverse consequences of sprawl. Simply put, we consider the development capacity of the 4,017 acres in question, but place the approved development in a compact and sensible configuration.
The difficult question, of course, is how can we keep today's compact urban development from becoming tomorrow's sprawl? The recommended Community Plan calls for compact urban development; the University says it supports compact urban development. But what can we do to ensure that after granting development approvals in amounts and locations consistent with compact urban development for the 4,017 acres in question, we are not someday faced with the prospect of sprawl beyond the Academic Growth Boundary.
I believe that the answer may be found in the use and application of "CUD Commitment Credits" -- a system which would allow the development of academic facilities up to the 2,035,000 square feet requested, provided that the commitment to stay clustered and avoid sprawl was made manifest by a commitment of acreage outside the Academic Growth Boundary to long-term uses of a less intense nature.
What I am inclined to suggest is a formula that would allow an increment of 2,000 square feet of academic development for every acre of land outside the Academic Growth Boundary for which a CUD Commitment Credit is earned. Assuming, for the sake of discussion, Stanford chose to develop the 2,035,000 square feet of academic facilities it has proposed, roughly 1,000 acres of land above Junipero Serra would be committed to the preservation of compact urban development.
Whether by easement or some other mutually agreeable planning tool, the acreage would be committed for a period of 99 years (or the life of the academic development, whichever was shorter).
In this way, we would know that the commitment to compact urban development would survive for the life of the development (or at least 99 years if the development remains in place beyond that period of time). In short, we can make the commitment to compact urban development lasting rather than transitory.
Moreover, by carefully prioritizing the acreage to be committed, the County can select acreage above Junipero Serra which is least suited to development (Special Conservation Areas for example), an approach which should minimize the impact on both the University and the public.
The net result of such an approach, should Stanford elect to proceed with all 2,035,000 square feet of development, is that a little more than 1,000 acres above Junipero Serra Boulevard would be protected from sprawl for a period of 99 years (or the life of development, whichever was shorter). Development in the remaining 1,200 acres above Junipero Serra would of course be limited by the 25 year Academic Growth Boundary and the General Plan's "Open Space-Field Research" designation.
While I have addressed at length some of the more significant outstanding issues in my remarks this evening, there are some other less global concerns which I ought to mention at least briefly. In reviewing the proposed Community Plan and GUP, I am inclined to suggest that we:
Clarify the law enforcement roles and responsibilities of the County Sheriff's Office and Stanford Police Services.
At my suggestion, and with Sheriff Laurie Smith's full consent and cooperation, negotiations have recently begun to clarify the relationship between these two organizations.
Clarify and strengthen the requirements for neighborhood compatibility in development along Stanford Avenue and El Camino Real.
Reaffirm and clarify the County's oversight role with respect to special events on the Stanford Campus, and the need to mitigate the impact of such events on surrounding communities (including but not limited to traffic).
Develop a process which permits the County to identify and consider any unmitigated community facilities impacts of Stanford lands development and the possible imposition of mitigation fees.
In other areas:
I am inclined to think we've made some significant progress in addressing the interests of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders. Through the newly recommended use of conventional zoning and the application of appropriate park and open space requirements, we have put at least a bit more certainty in their lives and perhaps reduced the level of anxiety.
With respect to traffic, I am pleased that our Planning staff and Planning Commission have continued to employ an approach based on "no net new commute trips"; and that specific mitigations have already been identified should the University find itself unable to meet that standard.
I am also pleased that neighborhood traffic and parking issues have been identified and addressed in the Community Plan and GUP.
With respect to the development potential of the so-called Lathrop District above Junipero Serra, I think the staff has more or less got it right. In my view, the Lathrop District boundary originally proposed by the University constituted an inappropriate expansion and encroachment of intense development into the foothills. Conversely, I think the suggestion to pull the AGB in this area down to Junipero Serra ignores the reality of pre-existing development.
The lines proposed by staff are, I think, a reasonable attempt to acknowledge but contain the area of intense development which now exists. I do think it would be helpful, and I plan to propose, additional protections in this area in the form of a 150 foot setback from Junipero Serra and a prohibition on intensive development in the area of oak woodland habitat. In this way, Lathrop District areas which are now substantially undisturbed will remain undisturbed.
On the issue of access to Stanford lands, I think our options are relatively limited. The Planning staff and Planning Commission have proposed the dedication of two significant trails consistent with our County's Master Plan for Trails. I certainly intend to support that recommendation.
Many members of the community, of course, have also asked that access to Stanford land, particularly "the Dish," be a Condition of Approval. I do not believe that such access can be required; but I would respectfully suggest to University officials here tonight, as I often have in recent months, that a voluntary offer of community access for the life of the GUP, upon the same terms and conditions applying to Stanford students, faculty and staff, would be a gracious and generous gesture.
Through the use of Special Conservation Areas, incentives for habitat enhancement, selective easements and the removal of housing from the Lower Knoll we have, I think, done a great deal to ensure the continued existence of important wildlife habitat.
Additional mitigation will, of course, be considered on a project by project basis. And the future "listing" of not-yet-listed species has the potential to result in additional protections as well.
Implementation and Governance
Having discussed the substance of the application, I'd also like to say a little about issues of implementation and governance.
The best plan in the world isn't worth the paper it's printed on if it isn't implemented. That means we must take steps now to ensure that the County is both well-equipped and fully accountable for the robust implementation of the Community Plan and GUP Conditions of Approval.
To that end, I will recommend that our County "staff up" to meet the need. If the County is to do its job, and do it well, it cannot effectively monitor the development and construction of 4.8 million square feet without additional building inspectors, fire marshals and code enforcement staff. Additional Planning staff will also be necessary as to ensure that the Community Plan and the GUP Conditions of Approval are "living documents" -- that their provisions are made manifest as development proceeds.
In order to enhance public access to Stanford-related decision-making at the County, I will suggest that the Community Resource Group be reconstituted with 8 to 12 members (including at least 2 who are Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders); and that this group be convened here in the North County on a quarterly basis in order for County Planning staff to report to and hear from the public on planning and implementation issues. "Sunshining" the County's activities in Stanford land use matters, in addition to ensuring a well-informed County effort, would go a long way toward establishing some greater degree of trust on the part of all parties concerned.
Frankly, the governance of Stanford University is a challenging thing. As a self-contained and substantially self-sufficient unincorporated community, the University's circumstance is unique in our County.
In many respects, it's an anomaly: On the one hand, for example, Stanford uniquely provides most of its own urban services at its own expense. On the other hand, Stanford is also exempt from paying property taxes on more than $3.3 billion dollars in assessed valuation (including secured and unsecured property).
Stanford's unique status sometimes requires a unique approach to matters of service delivery and governance -- but one thing should be made clear. Stanford's unique status as an unincorporated academic community does not obviate the obligation of the County to govern in the interest of the 21,000 students, faculty and staff who live, learn, teach and work on the unincorporated campus.
The fact that the Stanford campus is unincorporated does not mean it is ungoverned. We at the County need to do our jobs, and do them well; and that means adequate staff to do the hard work of planning, and public processes which are at least minimally sufficient to ensure matters of public concern can be effectively addressed in a public forum.
For the most part, I think that covers the issues still outstanding as we began this evening. And let me just say, I think we've gotten to a very good place.
If my colleagues and I follow through next week by approving a package along the lines of what I've suggested this evening, and if the University follows through in its recent commitments to the community, we will have produced a package that:
Gives the University everything it asked for in the way of entitlements -- 3,018 units of housing and 2,035,000 square feet of development.
Substantially mitigates the development's adverse impacts on traffic and housing through a pair of policies requiring "no net new commute trips" and a linkage between academic and housing development.
Provides unprecedented protection for open space lands in the foothills through the application of a first-ever Academic Growth Boundary, a General Plan "Open Space-Field Research" or "Special Conservation Area" designation for lands above Junipero Serra and strong policy language in our first-ever Stanford Community Plan (including language which clearly establishes a 25-year term for the Academic Growth Boundary).
Ensures that today's "compact urban development" doesn't become tomorrow's sprawl through the use of CUD Clustering Credits which ensure the long-term viability of compact urban development.
Begins today to chart a course toward defining what Stanford's ultimate buildout will look like.
Leaves the Stanford golf course in its current configuration.
Provides substantial resources to the Palo Alto Unified School District (above and beyond statutorily limited developer fees) in the form of the $10,000,000 lump sum or, alternatively, a $1-a-year school site which Stanford and the District have negotiated.
Provides the City of Palo Alto and the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center with some significant new possibilities for the provision of community services.
Through the use of an ongoing Community Resource Group provides increased accountability for the University and the County, and
Tidies up a number of longstanding issues regarding Stanford's relationship with our County Sheriff's Office, concerns about special event noise and traffic, the neighborhood needs of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders and neighborhood compatibility issues along Stanford Avenue and El Camino.
If we can accomplish all that on October 31st, I, for one, think it will be a pretty good day's work.
Earlier in my remarks this evening I mentioned how pleased I was with the success of the process to date. For the most part, I believe the debate over these past 18 months has been spirited, but civil. I want to close tonight's comments, however, on a cautionary note.
As the process has gone on longer and longer, and a decision appears closer and closer, I find myself concerned about a debate that has become increasingly strident, sometimes harsh, and too often polarized.
I worry that many of the legitimate competing interests who have raised their voices during the course of this conversation seem less and less inclined to acknowledge that, however eminent and worthy their interests may be, none is entitled to consider itself preeminent, at least not in the context of larger community concerns. Which leads me to say this.
Some months ago I observed that at the end of this process there was really only one question we had to ask and answer: Can a great University stay great without compromising the quality of life in surrounding communities?
I believe it can be done. Because in my view, it isnt about either/or. It's about both.
Folks, it's time to stop arguing about who's right, and start thinking about what's right. For the University, for the community; for today, tomorrow, and for all the years to come.
I thank you very much and I look forward to your comments.